When Amazon made a request for proposals (RFP) for their new second headquarters (HQ2), cities across the United States jumped at the opportunity. With the lure of bringing 50,000 high-paying jobs to the District, Mayor Muriel Bowser and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Brian Kenner leapt at the chance—actually four times over. Like Amazon, the city opted for options. DC’s proposal, which is likely to be very different than any other, offers four different sites across the District as possible locations for the tech giant’s east coast hub: Anacostia Riverfront, NoMa-Union Station, Capitol Hill East, Shaw-Howard University. The deadline to submit the proposal to Amazon was Oct. 19.
Amazon’s RFP has one sticking point that required the city to think creatively: Eight million square feet of available real estate for HQ2. There is no single available property in the District that could accommodate eight million square feet without significant zoning changes. Two options appear to be the leaders: Anacostia Riverfront and Capitol Hill East (RFK Stadium area). Amazon said it plans to invest up to $5 billion in construction over the next 10-15 years to create its second headquarters.
The Anacostia Riverfront proposal spans both sides of South Capitol St. as well as the Anacostia River, comprised of the Buzzard Point, Navy Yard, and Anacostia Metro areas. Because Amazon needs at least 500,000 square feet to start, each location needs to have an available office building or one on the way to completion. Navy Yard and Buzzard Point can offer that, as both locations will have available space come 2018-2019. Dubbing the area the Anacostia Riverfront, the city’s proposal sells it as a “riverfront sports and entertainment hub accessible by land and water.” It goes on to say:
“The Anacostia Riverfront proposal provides riverfront space along one of Washington, DC’s main waterways. It offers the best of two worlds: a breathtaking river corridor with more than 1,200 acres of parklands integrated into a high-density and transit-oriented community that is accessible by walking, biking, metro, ferry, or even kayak. The location includes Capitol Riverfront, which is five blocks from the United States Capitol, and encompasses the Yards Park and Buzzard Point neighborhoods. Capitol Riverfront is DC’s fastest growing neighborhood with 8,000 residents and a commuting workforce of more than 34,000. Home to Nationals Park and Audi Field, the area is a vibrant entertainment hub. A quick stroll across the soon-to-be-constructed, world-class bridge leads directly into Poplar Point, where consolidated building opportunities await along Anacostia Park. Anacostia Riverfront provides a space where urban living meets water, people meet parks, and history meets progress.”
The city has been aggressive in its push since Sept. 14, when Mayor Bowser released a video asking Amazon’s Alexa device where the new Amazon HQ2 will be located. The device responded, “Obviously, Washington, DC.” Since then the city has highlighted its accolades, including: No. 1 City for Women in Tech (Forbes 2017), No. 1 Restaurant City (Bon Appetit 2016), No. 1 Coolest City (Forbes 2014), No. 1 Best City for Tech (SmartAsset 2016), No. 1 City for Women’s Employment and Earnings (2016); First LEED Platinum City in the World (U.S. Green Building Council). Deputy Mayor Kenner has not said what the District might offer to incentivize Amazon, saying those details would be worked out after Amazon expressed interest in the District’s proposal. Mayor Bowser’s administration, however, has been aggressive in offering taxpayer dollars to corporations in order to bring jobs to the city.
To read more on the city’s proposal, visit www.alexawhydc.com/ or follow the hashtag #ObviouslyDC on social media channels.
By: Shannon Vaughn